Barr's Irn-Bru - Supporting Scottish Football

Can Welbeck Be ‘Dat Guy’ For Arsenal?

Danny_Welbeck

As Manchester United spent big, bringing in Radamel Falcao, they decided to let Danny Welbeck leave for league rivals Arsenal in a £16m deal. With Arsenal in desperate need for more strikers, has this been a good move by Arsene Wenger?

Well he is a versatile forward and we know Wenger likes players that can play in a few positions. He is also an English international and will have an understanding with Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Kieron Gibbs already. That should make things easier with settling into life in London.  The fact he is still on;y twenty-three, means he can still learn and improve.

But Danny is also hungry to prove himself as a main striker, through the middle. At Arsenal he’ll get that chance. Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla and Alexis Sanchez like to float around off the top and that means that there’s room for a striker. His main rivals for a front central role (Theo Walcott and Oliver Giroud) are both out injured. At Man United, Welbeck often scored more when he was in a central position, problem was he hardly got a chance to play there unless Robin Van Persie or Wayne Rooney suffered from an injury.

The player always runs his socks off and gives his all. His attitude in that regard is unquestionable. But alas as a frontman you are often judged on goals (Just ask Emile Heskey). He certainly needs to improve on his thirty-seven career goals in 178 club appearances.  He isn’t a natural goalscorer but he does seem more prone to instinctive finishes rather than taking his time and thinking about it.

To be honest he has a the tools to do well for Arsenal. The first few months will be extremely important for both the player and the club. They need Welbeck to hit the ground running and be the focal point for all the creative stars that will play in and around him.

Is he a signing that will get you thirty goals a season and clinch you a league title? Probably not. But he can get at least fifteen with this Arsenal team and if he can hold his own until Walcott and Giroud return then he’ll already have proven himself in Wenger’s eyes.

Fending off Spurs for his signature is always looked upon kindly by the ‘Gooners’ support.

A smart signing in my opinion although I still think Arsenal needed a ball winning central midfield marshall and another centre-back. But they have enough to challenge for the title, although more new recruits may be needed in January!

Five Possible Reasons Why Man Utd Signed Falcao

Falcao

So Manchester United look set to complete the biggest deal on transfer deadline day by bringing in Radamel Falcao from Monaco. The Colombian is obviously a world class player but as a striker do Man United really need more forwards in their squad?

Well here are five possible reasons why the deal might work-out in the ‘Red Devils’ favour.

1. Goals Goals Goals

The international hitman has a wonderful goal return. Falcao has 155 goals in his 200 appearances since he came to Europe in 2009. If he can recreate that kind of form in the English Premier League then he’d be expecting to get between 20-25 goals in the league and that would be huge, if United stand any chance of breaking back into the ‘Top Four’.

2. Perfect Cover For Van Persie

Robin van Persie has had an injury plagued career. When fit, he can be sensational but at the moment he can’t seem to reach maximum fitness. Talk is that the Dutchman needs an operation on his knee. If true and Van Persie is facing time on the side lines then the loan to bring in Radamel would provide instant cover up top.

3. Football Status

With this signing along with Angel Di Maria coming to Old Trafford, Man United have proven this summer that even without Champions League football they can attract top quality signings. It helps to sell merchandise and keep the share price up too.

4. It’s Only A Loan 

With a £6m loan it’s not a huge amount to spend if it doesn’t go well, plus you can then send him back to AS Monaco next summer. If it goes well, then they have a set fee to keep him beyond this term.

5. Hungry Player 

The striker will be out to prove himself once again in a higher league with a major footballing force. Last season in Ligue 1, along with his injury, will be seen by the Colombian as a lost year. That should mean that he hits the ground running with Man Utd, determined to show the world that he’s fit again and still a fabulous frontman!

It will be interesting to see just how Louis van Gaal fits Radamel Falcao into his United squad. To me, that United team still lacks a commanding centre-half and balance. But they have sold off some of the deadwood and the Falcao signing could impress the fans.

Will he score enough to fire Manchester Utd up the league and into the ‘Top Four’? Only time will tell.

Can Loic Remy Have A Say In Where The Premier League Title Ends Up?

Loïc_Rémy

Both Chelsea and Arsenal seem set to battle it out for French forward Loic Remy‘s signature.

With only a day to go before the transfer window slams shut, both London clubs need at least one more goalscorer in their squad to feel more confident in a major title challenge.

Chelsea have just loaned out Fernando Torres to Milan. They’ve also sold Romelu Lukaku and Demba Ba, plus freed Samuel Eto’o this summer. They have brought back ‘Blues’ icon Didier Drogba and spent big getting world-class striker Diego Costa in at the Bridge. Jose Mourinho also has a few in his squad that can play in a false nine role.

But the Portuguese manager has sensed with the Torres departure, that one more hitman could be needed just to keep things ticking over.

With Remy they would be getting a different type of striker. Costa can offer both pace and strength and will always be the number one striker (especially when in-form like he is at the moment). But the Spanish internationalist is prone to hamstring problems and could pick up quite a few cards and suspensions in a season.

So extra cover could be important. Drogba is known for his bulldozing power but sometimes you need a different option. That’s where Remy comes in as he has an abundance of pace that will threaten any back line. He could be seen as the new Nicolas Anelka at Stamford Bridge. A great foil and back-up striker.

Arsenal’s need is even more obvious. Main striker Olivier Giroud faces months on the sidelines with a broken foot. Youngsters Joel Campbell and Yaya Sanogo are both still too raw to lead the line in a full-time capacity. Theo Walcott is still not match fit. That puts a lot of pressure on £32m man Alexis Sanchez. The Chilean can play up top but Arsenal need a plan b and an experienced forward to offer goals and competition, no matter what Arsene Wenger tries to tell us. Remy could be a poor mans Thierry Henry!

It should also be noted that Loic is a self-confessed ‘Gunner’.

As I’ve already mentioned Remy gives any potential employer a great outlet up-front with his vast pace. The QPR man also has a good instinct for getting goals. His English Premier League (EPL) experience could be vital too. Both sides want a player that can settle in quickly. His twenty goals in forty-one EPL appearances is highly impressive. Then you add in the factor that he’ll only cost you £10.5m due to a buy-out clause.

So you can see why both Premier League powerhouses want the French internationalist. But his attitude has been called into question in the past and then we have the medical questions too.

A move to Liverpool collapsed this summer due to a failed medical and during his Marseille days in 2010 it was announced that Remy suffered from a heart defect. That condition didn’t stop him moving to L’OM or QPR for that matter but it’ll be interesting to see how Chelsea/Arsenal deal with his medical.

By the second of September we shall know who Loic Remy will line up for this season. It could be a huge decision. All league winning teams need strength and depth, especially in the forward areas. The twenty-seven year old will bring goals and that could help bring the league title back to London!

Oxlade-Chamberlain Could Be England’s Brightest Star!

Alex_Oxlade-Chaimberlain

So now that the ‘Golden Generation’ of England has finally fizzled out with nothing but thoughts of what could have been. National team boss Roy Hodgson needs new stars to step up and shine.

New captain Wayne Rooney bridges the two generations but the Manchester United star has had a bit of a tough time of it as of late. Question marks surround the forward with many including former teammate Paul Scholes asking if the Man United hitman has already peaked in his career. Can he thrive with the added pressure of being captain at both club and country.

Many pundits and fans alike have high hopes for Everton’s Ross Barkley. But the youngster still has a lot to learn in top flight football. He needs to be able to reach his potential in his own time and not rushed just because he has vast potential. Hopefully he can return from his knee injury and get more games under his belt. Then become an England star in time for Euro 2016.

For me though, Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain should be the player that Roy builds his team around. The twenty-one year old has great ability and presence that can hurt most teams, when he is on-song.

He can play out wide or in attacking central midfield position. The ‘Gunner’ already has fifteen caps and three international goals. He possesses both pace and strength. Both are needed to excel in the biggest games both for club and country. The creative player can also skip past opponents with the slump of a shoulder, a burst of pace or a nice bit of skill.

Against Brazil in the Maracana in 2013, Oxlade-Chamberlain shone. He was fantastic on the ball and the team looked to him as an inspiration. He rounded off that fine performance with a wonderful goal too.

At Arsenal he never looks out of place in the company of Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Santi Cazorla.

Now this is an important season for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. He needs to finally stay clear from niggling injuries and be ready to help Arsenal challenge for the title. The midfield maestro also needs to score more regularly and create more assists too!

His club manager, Arsene Wenger, has paid the midfielder a high compliment by comparing the talent to that of Zinedine Zidane and David Beckham.

The player has a huge amount of talent and the right attitude. If he manages to stay clear from injuries then he could be the star that Roy Hodgson needs when it comes to starting life after messrs Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard.

Why Squad Numbers Shouldn’t Be Messed With In Football

Number 5

Samuel Eto’o signed for Everton this week. it looks like a good deal for the ‘Toffees’ as the experienced striker can provide top-class back up for Romelu Lukaku and the big Belgian can also learn from the African legend.

But one part of the deal irks me! That is Samuel’s squad number. The striker will be wearing number five! That is not a strikers number. I like my numbers to be pretty simple and uncomplicated. Certain numbers including five can be used for used for various positions but not all. Others like one and nine are just fit for certain positions.

Here is my guide to squad numbers.

  1. Goalkeeper and only goalkeeper
  2. Right-back or a versatile right sided defender
  3. Left-back or a versatile left sided defender
  4. Centre-back or defensive mid
  5. Left-back (especially if Dutch) or Centre-back. Also good for South American defensive mids
  6. Centre back or defensive mids or just central midfielders
  7. Right winger/midfielder or a maverick forward
  8. Central midfielder or attacking midfielder
  9. Striker, usually your top scorer
  10. Target man, forward, attacking mid or free role
  11. Left winger
  12. Defensive cover or a French striker
  13. Sub keeper
  14. Sub defender or def mid
  15. Supersub striker
  16. Defensive mid or a French keeper
  17. Young attacker

22. Could be third choice goalie

The rest can be pretty interchangeable. That said I’ve always like my attacking players to have odd numbers and the defensive ones have even.

Also I’d prefer it if the kept all numbers under forty unless they are youth players just breaking through towards the end of the season. Mario Balotelli shouldn’t be 45, they had seven available.

No one ever should given the 00 number unless its James Bond and followed with a seven!

Punters Seeing The Push Into Apps Ahead Of New Season

Guy on phone

If you’re like us, then you’ll have certainly witnessed the countless push notifications about the World Cup this summer. There was no way of avoiding the score.

Updates coming through from Paddy Power, William Hill, and even Twitter- so whether you were asleep missing out on the 2am kick off, or on the train during the World Cup Final desperately averting your eyes and ears from anyone mentioning the words ‘Germany’ or ‘Argentina’ because you had it recorded at home, you were constantly kept in the loop by a buzzing in your trouser pocket. Believe me.

It seems push notifications are the new big marketing tool for companies, allowing businesses to instantly contact its customers and encouraging them to actively use their app.

Take the World Cup as an example, the likelihood is that if you have a betting app, you’re going to use it – especially during the world’s biggest sporting event. In the UK alone, 4.3% of iPhone users have an app on their phone, and with the rapid growth of betting in the mobile sector, that’s predicted to rise to 10% very soon.

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And on top of that, with 68% of people who download apps opting in to receive push notifications, that’s a huge market. And companies are already reaping the rewards.

Bookmaker Coral received significant spikes in turnover following each push notification sent during the World Cup, whilst during a Freebets Q&A with Paddy Power, Mick Forry, Sportsbook Affiliates and Partnerships Manager at the company affirmed that push messages will be used to give a customer the information they want.

He said, “Long term I would see push as us giving the customers control over what information they receive. Giving customers the power to tailor their betting experience should enhance it.”

Which is great news for the customer. In a world where we need reminding to pick the kids up from school, put the washing machine on before work, or visit the supermarket on the way home, being reminded to place your usual accumulator or half time bet will be extremely useful to punters.

We find push on most apps now, it was prominent throughout the summer, and whilst it is a great marketing ploy across all industries for brands, it’s also very convenient for ourselves as smartphones continue to organise our lives more and more.

Maybe Moyes Wasn’t To Blame For Man United Misery

Man Utd badge

Many speculated that sacking David Moyes would at least stop the rot setting in further at Manchester United. When Dutch legend Louis van Gaal took over this summer after a hugely successful World Cup with the Netherlands, many Man Utd fan rejoiced and looked forward to a vastly improved season.

During preseason United scored six victories in seven outings. Van Gaal’s 3-5-2 formation was heralded as a stroke of genius as Utd geared up for the new campaign.

There has also been some major moves in the transfer market with Ander Herrera, Luke Shaw and Marcos Rojo all joining. United confirmed the British record signing of Angel Di Maria this evening for a fee of around £59.3m.

But Van Gaal and the United faithful haven’t had time to celebrate. Barely hours after the Di Maria announcement and his new club were humbled and humiliated in the League Cup suffering a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of League One side MK Dons.

That comes after the Old Trafford side failed to win in their opening two Premier League fixtures. Losing at home to Swansea and drawing away at Sunderland.

The new formation is clearly not working. Louis needs to see that he doesn’t have the personnel available to him to get the best out of 3-5-2. Especially with a squad void of any morale. The formation needs a lot of pressing and possession. Currently the ‘Red Devils’ lack hunger and determination. The players treat the ball like a hot potato and get rid of it as quickly as possible, usually to their opponents!

The amount of injuries that Man United have suffered so far this term is alarming. Van Gaal has been known to over train his players in the past, and that has resulted in a vast amount of niggles and strains. Is history repeating itself?

There is also still too much deadwood in this United squad. The pool is populated with too many faces that constantly under perform. More need to leave and let the rest breathe.

Yet even with all these players, Manchester United have still to find a ball winning, dynamic midfielder. A player that they’ve been calling out for, for a few years now!

Interestingly enough, most of the criticism this term seems to be aimed at the players themselves. Now I’m not totally against that but last year it was all David Moyes fault. If this was 2013/14 United support would have already be calling for Moyes to go at these three results in a row. Yet Van Gaal’s reputation seems to protect him from the harshest of criticism.

But lets look at facts, United haven’t bought well for a few seasons now. Ed Woodward needs to be questioned. Its all very well breaking transfer records every window but you need to improve on all areas of the team, not just creative midfielders. The team desperately need a veteran centre-half that can take that defence by the scruff of the neck and pull them up.

David Moyes must be watching this team play and smiling to himself, knowing it wasn’t all his fault. The problems at United go from the top (board) to the bottom (vast squad including too many mediocre fringe players).

The whole club is broken and it should look at going back to basics first. Stick to a trusted, solid formation that the players understand. Be strong, resolute and attack down the wings. Scrap and fight for results if you have too. Get back the fear factor and build on any success you have and then build on it.

Only then will they be able to come out the other end and be ready to try out new systems and philosophies.

Chelsea Look The Real Deal With Key Signings

chelsea-badge

Although Jose Mourinho proclaimed himself ‘the happy one’ upon his return to Stamford Bridge, after ending the season with no silverware to his name, chances are he was far from that moniker.

For a man who has amassed 19 trophies in 14 years with his various clubs, failure is not an option. Mourinho has regrouped this summer and made some pertinent signings in key areas and judging by Monday season opener they could prove to be invaluable to the blues. Samuel Eto’o has departed, alongside old Mourinho faithful’s Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard. Their replacements however, more than justify the ends of an era.

Diego_costa_Chelsea

Diego Costa (£32m – Atletico Madrid)

The 25-year-old Brazilian-born Spanish international was something of an unknown quantity till two years ago.

However, 10 goals in 16 league games for Rayo Vallecano prompted Atletico to give him his break through chance in the 2012/13 season.

Costa proceeded to rattle in 37 league goals in 66 games and began attracting not only interest from clubs around Europe, but the nations too, as Spain battled to make him an adopted son in time for the 2014 World Cup in his actual homeland, Brazil.

Costa is a highly aggressive, controversial figure on the pitch but is also bullish around goal with a powerful build, ruthless finishing and superior aerial qualities.

Mourinho often bemoaned his side’s lack of potency last year, and following a less than impressive World Cup, Costa has already set out in pre-season to prove a point. This continued with the forward only taking 17 minutes to open his premier league account, something his fellow Spanish international Torres took 734 minutes to do. The Premier League Golden Boot could be coming to Stamford Bridge for the first time since a certain Ivorian…

Drogba_chelsea

Didier Drogba (Free – Galatasaray)

As a few of Mourinho’s reliable old guard departed, one of his prodigal sons returned.

Drogba will be 37-years-old in March 2015 and has no doubt come to play second fiddle to Costa in his second spell at the Bridge. However, Drogba still has a lot to offer this Chelsea side through invaluable experience and his knack for scoring important goals.

Drogba also still carries that all-important ‘winner’s mentality’ that Mourinho constantly exudes – the chance to have that rub off on the younger talent is invaluable.

cesc

Cesc Fabregas (£30m – Barcelona)

Many people believe the former Arsenal man is the perfect replacement for Chelsea legend Frank Lampard due to his offensive capabilities.

The 27-year-old Spaniard reached double figures for both goals and assists in all of his three seasons with Barcelona, and his most fruitful Premier League campaign saw him score 19 and make 17 goals in 27 league games for Arsenal in 09/10.

Fabregas is sure to add some much needed creativity and reliable goal scoring to the Chelsea midfield, with his best years ahead of him. He can play a vital part in Chelsea’s fortunes this term, and along with Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez, this has to be regarded as one of the deals of the window. Like Costa, Fabregas debut could not have gone any better, Fabregas laid on 2 assists and looked like he had never been away from the league, a shrewd bit of business indeed.

Filipe_Luis_Chelsea

 

Filipe Luis (£16m – Atletico Madrid)

Although Cesar Azpilicueta starred for Chelsea in the left-back slot last season, Mourinho has sought to bring some more balance to his back-line with the competitive and dependable Filipe Luis.

Since his move to Madrid from Deportivo, the Brazilian has starred in the meteoric rise of Atletico and has shown he is just as adept to moving forward as he is to his stout defending duties.

After turning 29 last week, Luis may not be the long-term solution that Luke Shaw’s move to Manchester United represents, but he certainly has the pedigree that potential can only strive to match.

Giroud Offers More Than Meets The Eye

Olivier_Giroud

Football really is a funny old game. Fans these days are ninety minutes away from calling for a managers head, starting a crisis or declaring a player not good enough. To be fair they are also ninety minutes away from calling players world-class or stating their team are destined for championships. They swing from one extreme to the other in the blink of an eye.

Oliver Giroud never seems too far away from vicious punters calling for him to be dropped or sold. I just don’t get it. Am I watching a different player to everyone else?

I honestly think Giroud is a top quality striker. Maybe not a world class goalscorer but we can’t expect that from every forward. Some players offer a team more than just goals.

For instance, Teddy Sheringham wasn’t overly prolific but he was still a superb striker.

If you watch Giroud, you’ll notice that the Frenchman will lead the line expertly well. His runs are intelligent, he moves into certain areas (usually coming deep or out wide) and that creates space for the attacking midfielders to run into. It’s not by coincidence that Aaron Ramsey has excelled when Giroud started leading the line.

Giroud is also great at holding the ball up, waiting for his creative support and then bring them into play. A fantastic trait for any international forward!

The former Montpellier hitman also gives Arsenal an aerial threat they’ve always lacked with Arsene Wenger in charge. No Premier League star has scored more headed goals than Giroud since the start of the 2012/13 season. His heading also creates chances for others and keeps up the attacking momentum, just look at his involvement in Ramsey’s goal against Crystal Palace last weekend.

His goal against Everton, where he bullied the defence and steered his header past Tim Howard, was vital in keeping morale high with the Gunners ahead of their second leg with Besiktas.

The forward is still looking to regain his full fitness, yet his presence has been enough to help his club gain points in their opening two fixtures in the EPL. He also works his socks off and gives his all for the team. His efforts don’t go unnoticed with the rest of the squad and he is a big personality in the dressing room.

I think too much is made of his goal record. He’s made 102 appearances for the Gunners and scored 41 times. Last term he bagged 22 goals in all competitions. The forward also managed a credible eight assists in the league.

Now lets remember that Oliver Giroud only cost around £12m. Just think that is the same fee that Southampton paid for Shane Long this summer. Also lets not forget since he arrived at the Emirates, Giroud has had to ply upfront as Arsenal’s main striker without much in the way of competition or help. I would wait and judge him this term when he is fully fit and playing with Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey and Alexis Sanchez playing in and around him.

Plus he’s still only twenty-seven, just hitting his peak years.

I think if Monsieur Giroud stays fit and plays then he’ll get at least twenty league goals for Arsenal this term!

Hutton Could Be The Phoenix For Villa

Alan_Hutton

Alan Hutton has returned to the Aston Villa first team after two seasons in the wilderness, being sent out on loan and ignored by boss Paul Lambert.

Now that he’s been given a second chance at Villa Park by his manager, Hutton seems to be grabbing that chance with both hands. In Villa’s opening two Premier League games Hutton has played a full part in both and Villa have still to concede this term. With the Scottish right back winning the man of the match award against Newcastle Utd this weekend.

So why has Hutton finally started to perform at Villa?

Well firstly, he’s getting the opportunity. For various reasons Lambert decided to freeze out the Scottish international. But it seems that in the summer he decided to give a few former first-teamers a chance to prove they are worthy of a place in his Villa team. Hutton looks set on doing just that! To get a player believing in himself again was a wonderful trait Lambert’s mentor Martin O’Neill had. Lambert looks to be working that magic with Villa as he has praised his right-back in his opening two games.

He has also got himself in shape again. Back in his opening season with the Villains he looked heavy but now he seems to have slimmed down. Hutton looks hungry and has done well in getting fit and ready to play his best football again. His attitude as of late has also been exemplary.

Don’t underestimate his teammates and the tactics. At Rangers, when Hutton was at his best, he had a great understanding with Charlie Adam a left sider that played on the right. He would cut inside and that gave Hutton acres of space down on the flank. At Spurs with Aaron Lennon on the right, Hutton was never afforded the space he craved. Against Newcastle, Charles N’Zogbia started on the right and he too is a left sided footballer. You could see Hutton was much better when he had that space to run into.

Many have questioned Alan’s defensive qualities in the past. But here is the thing, one of the best forms of defence is attack. If Hutton is allowed to attack at the opposition he will create chances and win fouls but he also keeps the opposing players on the back foot. That said I think the Villa fullback has done well defensively this season. He has confidence in Ron Vlaar and Philippe Senderos who play alongside him and that helps. Hutton’s awareness has also impressed as he has on more than one occasion swept up behind the central two.

I never believed that Alan Hutton had suddenly turned into a bad player. He might have made the move into the EPL a bit early, although he did reject Spurs twice before finally accepting in 2008 (Rangers needed the cash). His attitude might have been poor when he was younger. But the defender is now twenty-nine and may finally be ready to prove himself as a player more than capable to perform well in the Premier League.